Insider Tips to Find a House You Can Afford

California is a beautiful place to be. It’s got great weather, shopping and dining options, but these perks drive up the cost of local real estate. For example, the current average selling price for homes in Orange County is $814,000 according to Trendgraphix, February 2017 data.

Here are some tips to successfully become a homeowner in the Golden State.

Condos Are a First-Time Buyer’s Best Friend

If this is your first time buying a home, or just your first time buying in California, the best way to break into the real estate market is with a condo or townhome. You can find condos in the $300,000s if you’re diligent and stay on top of the current inventory. There’s nothing wrong with starting small to gain equity and save up for a better home, or an even better location. Condos are great starter homes so start your search there.

Work Your Way to the Coast

A good place to start is Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Also known as the Inland Empire, these areas offer much more affordable choices, still within close proximity to Orange and Los Angeles Counties. You can check the average sale price of homes in every city for yourself with First Team Real Estate’s monthly market updates. Covering Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire, the market reports will help you familiarize yourself with the cities that offer comparatively affordable homes in Southern California.

Focus on Your Credit—And Saving

The better your credit score, the better your mortgage interest rate. Improving your credit score is critical if you want to afford a home in your dream locale. With a credit score of about 750 and above, you will be able to qualify for the best rates and save yourself thousands over the term of your loan. Saving money isn’t easy, but it’s necessary in order to help break into the California real estate market. Skip your morning coffee run, cook at home, downsize your cable, and do whatever you can to lower your monthly bills. When you pay attention to where all of your pennies are going, it’s much easier to pinpoint where you can afford to cut back.

Research Your Financing Offers  

Did you know that SchoolsFirst FCU has a School Employee Mortgage Program featuring competitive rates, low down payments, on-time closing guarantee, discounts and more?  Find out more. Team up with an agent and financial professional, and review what you qualify for to better understand what is possible. When you have the support and service you need, it’s easy to make your California real estate dreams a reality.

Content provided by FirstTeam Real Estate


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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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17 thoughts on “Insider Tips to Find a House You Can Afford

  1. I just wanted to thank you for these tips for finding a home for sale. I’m glad you mentioned that it could be good to get a condo first because it’s a good way to gain equity. My sister has been thinking of moving out recently and this sounds like it could be a good consideration for her.

  2. I couldn’t agree more when you mentioned to focus on your credit and saving a sone way to prepare for buying your own house. It is recommended that you maintain a good credit score to increases your chances of getting your mortgage application approved. This credit score report will be the same document that your lender would look at, so it’s best to make sure that all the details are accurate or updated. If I were to buy myself a house or property, I would make sure to keep this in mind. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for pointing out that if your credit score is 750 or above then you’ll be able to get great rates and save on your loan. My husband and I have decided that we want to get a home for ourselves and our one-year-old that’s in a good school district. We’ll have to check our score and make sure that it’s pretty good as we look for a good piece of real estate.

  4. Thanks for letting us know that we should improve our credit score before buying a house since it will give us a better mortgage interest rate. My husband and I are planning on buying our first home, so we are wondering what the best way to go about the process is. We will definitely have to focus on improving our credit so that we can get a great interest rate on our mortgage.

  5. I like what you said about focusing on your credit and saving. I’ve been working on my credit score recently and trying to get it to the best possible place so that I can have better rates. My wife and I are looking for a home and I think this is what will allow us to fit it into our budget.

  6. You make a great point that improving your credit score is critical if you want to afford a home in your dream locale. My sister and her husband are looking for a new home right now, and they’ve been saving for several years to be able to move to the neighborhood of their dreams. I think it would be super helpful if they had a realtor to help them in their search so that they can find the perfect home.

  7. I really appreciated that tip to cut back where you can afford to–like morning coffee breaks. My friend and her husband just had a baby, so they’ve been wanting to get their very first home within the next few years. These tips will definitely help them save and prepare to get a new home, so thank you for sharing.

  8. I like that you suggested buying a condo or townhome for your first home. It sounds like a townhome could be a good option for me based on my budget. I like that you said you can start small in order to gain equity and save up for a better home. I don’t want to rush into getting a home I won’t be able to afford right now.

  9. It is always important you know how much you can afford and your financial situation. Setting the right budget is also important because there will be unexpected fees during the process of buying a house. Great tips by the way. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks for suggesting that a first-time home buyer choose a condo or townhome to break into the real estate market. My son is getting married early next year, so he and his fiance are currently searching for their first home. I’ll definitely suggest that they look into a townhome or condo to help them ease in to the world of real estate!

  11. I agree that you should make sure you can afford a home first. For your first time buying a home, you might want to get something small and very affordable, like you said. Then you can work your way up to a larger home once you have more saved.

  12. My husband and I want to buy our first home where we can start a family, but we’ve never done this before and could use some tips. Your article is just what I was looking for, and I liked how you said to try and maintain a credit score of 750 or above so we can qualify for the best rates and save ourselves thousands over the term of our loan. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when shopping for our first home.

  13. I like that you said condos are a great option for first-time buyers. That might be a good choice for me. It seems like a good idea to start with something small and then save up for a better home, like you said. It might take time before you can move into your dream home.

  14. Thanks for helping me understand that having a good credit score is a must. As you mentioned, it will give us more options to choose from to get the best loan with great rates. I will share this tip with my husband so that we can both check our credit score first before we even look for a house. As for me, I think my history is good because every loan I get back then, may it be credit card or payday loans, I pay them on time or even advanced.

  15. Thanks for pointing out that townhomes can be a first-time buyer’s best friend. My husband and I are looking for townhomes for sale near us right now. I think it would be a lot nicer than living in an apartment and definitely more like a home.

  16. I like how you said that the better your credit score, the better your mortgage interest rate. One of my friends had a debt that he just paid and he has been saving money to buy a house. I will recommend him to read this article so that he can be aware of when should be the best time to acquire a house.

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